Traditional Knowledge

Policy Brief 113, 11 October 2022

A Breakthrough in Negotiations on Intellectual Property, Protection of Genetic Resources and Traditional Knowledge in WIPO?

 By Dr. Viviana Muñoz Tellez

This Policy Brief provides a brief summary of the current negotiations in the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) for an international legal instrument or instruments relating to intellectual property to ensure the balanced and effective protection of genetic resources (GRs), associated traditional knowledge (TK) and traditional cultural expressions (TCEs). The General Assembly in June 2022 took a significant decision to schedule a Diplomatic Conference in 2024 to conclude a treaty on the protection of GRs and associated TK. However broader protection for TK and TCEs is not part of the decision. The 44th session of the WIPO Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore (IGC), held on 12–16 September 2022, focused on advancing text-based negotiations on these issues and two more sessions will follow. Developing countries must coordinate closely, in parallel to the IGC sessions, to agree on a common negotiating position for the treaty to be concluded no later than in 2024.

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SC Statement to the WIPO Assemblies, 18 July 2022

Statement by the South Centre to the 2022 Assemblies of the Member States of WIPO

The South Centre is the intergovernmental organization of developing countries based in Geneva that supports developing countries’ efforts to build up a fair and inclusive multilateral system conducive to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). We are of the view that a central objective of World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) as part of the United Nations (UN) UN system should be to support the achievement of such goals through the promotion of a balanced international intellectual property (IP) system that reflects the interests of countries at different levels of economic and technological development, and in line with the WIPO Development Agenda.

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Research Paper 148, 7 March 2022

Marine Genetic Resources Beyond National Jurisdictions: Negotiating Options on Intellectual Property

By Siva Thambisetty

Negotiations on marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ) convene after a significant hiatus during which intellectual property monopolies have come under intense normative and pragmatic scrutiny. This paper historicises developments in legal arrangements over intellectual property and biodiversity to propose several negotiating options on the control, use and circulation of marine genetic resources of areas beyond national jurisdiction. The text-based options presented here operationalise an equitable approach taking into account the interests of low power groups, cross-cutting issues and the often ignored question of the ownership and use of marine genetic resources through intellectual property rights.

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South Centre Semester Report, July – December 2021

South Centre Semester Report, July – December 2021

The South Centre undertakes policy-oriented research on issues, as defined in its Work Program (https://www.southcentre.int/work-program/), that are relevant to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. It supports the countries of the South to effectively participate in negotiating processes in order to build up a multilateral system that supports and does not undermine development efforts. It also provides policy and technical advice and capacity building in support of countries and institutions of the South. Catalogues of the publications of the Centre can be found at https://www.southcentre.int/publications-catalogues/.

The South Centre expands its reach and impact by leveraging cooperation with other international organizations, research institutions, academia and civil society.

This Semester Report is an account of how the South Centre’s Secretariat has fulfilled the Centre’s mission through the different workstreams for the period July – December 2021.

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Statement, October 2021

Statement by the South Centre to the 2021 Assemblies of the Member States of WIPO

The South Centre is the intergovernmental think tank of developing countries based in Geneva. We are of the view that a central goal of WIPO as part of the UN system is to support the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. A balanced and flexible international intellectual property system, with adequate safeguards, can be supportive of the SDGs, as set by SDG 3b. Global supply and access to Covid-19 countermeasures can be accelerated with increased cooperation and removal of IP barriers. WIPO should support its Members to reach agreement on a temporary waiver of the TRIPS Agreement.

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Statement, September 2021

Statement by the South Centre to the Third meeting of the Open-Ended Working Group on the Post 2020 Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF)

The South Centre, the intergovernmental think tank of developing countries based in Geneva, is pleased to participate in the third meeting of the Open-Ended Working Group on the Post 2020 Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF). There is a lot of work to be done until COP-15. The new draft of the GBF improves on the previous version, yet several areas require significant improvements.

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Submission to the 18th Session of the CGRFA, August 2021

South Centre Submission to the 18th Session of the CGRFA

The South Centre presents its compliments to the Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (CGRFA) and is pleased to send to the Commission the following information on its programmes and activities relevant to the prioritized themes for the 18th session of the CGRFA.

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South Centre Semester Report, January-June 2021

South Centre Semester Report, January – June 2021

This Semester Report summarizes the activities undertaken by the South Centre during the period 1st January to 30 June 2021. It is intended to provide information, organized by themes, about recent developments in the areas covered by the Centre’s Work Program, meetings organized or co-organized by the Centre to examine particular issues or provide analytical support for negotiations taking place in various international fora, and conferences and other meetings where the Centre has participated. It also informs about publications of the outcomes of internal policy-oriented research and external contributions made as a result of cooperation with the Centre.

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Research Paper 131, June 2021

TRIPS Flexibilities and TRIPS-plus Provisions in the RCEP Chapter on Intellectual Property: How Much Policy Space is Retained? 

By Vitor Henrique Pinto Ido

The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) was signed on 15 November 2020 by 15 Asian-Pacific countries (ASEAN—Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam—, and China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand), comprising about one third of the world’s population and economy. India was a crucial party to the negotiations but opted out of the agreement. Ratification of the agreement is still pending, subject to more Parties ratifying it at the national level. This paper provides a broad overview of the RCEP agreement and discusses the details of the intellectual property (IP) Chapter. Significantly, it does not contain substantive TRIPS-plus provisions that undermine public health in developing countries—although it does contain such provisions in other areas such as copyrights, trademarks, and IP enforcement.

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Statement, June 2021

South Centre Statement to the formal meeting of SBSTTA 24

Agenda Item 3: Post 2020 GBF

Subsidiary bodies of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) are formally meeting to advance the Post 2020 Biodiversity Framework. A dedicated funding mechanism for the CBD and mechanism for technology transfer and capacity building should be part of the framework. Read the SC statement.

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Research Paper 130, April 2021

Misappropriation of Genetic Resources and Associated Traditional Knowledge: Challenges Posed by Intellectual Property and Genetic Sequence Information

By Nirmalya Syam and Thamara Romero

Improper acquisition of genetic resources (GRs) and associated traditional knowledge (TK) without prior informed consent and on mutually agreed terms, in accordance with national laws of the country providing the GR and associated TK, as well as without any fair and equitable sharing of the benefits derived from their utilization, has been a significant concern for developing countries. Intellectual property (IP) rights can serve as one of the means of such misappropriation. One of the mechanisms sought by developing countries to prevent it consists in the establishment of an effective multilateral legal mechanism for defensive protection against misappropriation, primarily through the introduction of a mandatory disclosure requirement about the source and country of origin of such resources in intellectual property right (IPR) applications. These negotiations have been taking place in different fora. However, there is an increased sense of frustration due to the lack of progress in achieving consensus during the last twenty years. Meanwhile, new modes of misappropriation of GRs are evolving through the use of genetic sequence information and data of GRs, and by applying technological developments in synthetic biology. This paper discusses the use of IP and genetic sequence information and data as modes of misappropriation of GRs and associated TK and the deficits of the current international legal framework in preventing such misappropriation. This paper also maps the state of play of the ongoing negotiations in the context of these issues in different fora, and, in conclusion, proposes possible alternative approaches for addressing these pressing issues at the multilateral level.

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Policy Brief 90, March 2021

Proposals to Advance the Negotiations of the Post 2020 Biodiversity Framework

By Dr. Viviana Muñoz Tellez

Informal consultations are ongoing in virtual format towards the adoption of a Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework by the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). The Fifteenth meeting of the CBD-COP is scheduled to be held on 11–24 October 2021, in Kunming, China. For negotiations to succeed, the Framework must be ambitious, balanced and achievable, building on past commitments. All three pillars of the CBD must be equally advanced. The Rio principles in particular on common but differentiated responsibilities (CBDR), must be clearly reflected. This policy brief advances proposals towards advancing negotiations on the current zero-draft of the Framework towards realizing the 2050 global vision of living in harmony with nature.

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